There seems to be in place a culture of mistreating and harassing the wheelchair bound whenever they decide to board a flight. Incidents where wheelchair-bound people have been made to wait longer than usual in order to get their equipment back keep coming up every now and then and put us all to shame. Now Air India is back in news for holding back this 23-year old’s wheelchair at the New Delhi Airport when he boarded his flight to the USA.
In a major faux pas the airline kept his wheelchair at the IGI Airport and did not send it along with him due to security concerns. For some strange reason Air India officials assumed that the batteries had not been disconnected and did not even bother to inform Pratyush Nalam to whom the wheelchair belonged. Now, whether this discovery/assumption/thought came to the airline after Nalam’s flight took off or they just thought he’d somehow manage without it is best known to them.
23-year old Pratyush Nalam was flying via connecting flights of Air India to the USA for a job he had recently landed in Microsoft, Seattle. Nalam is affected by a condition called muscular atrophy due to which he is unable to make any form of movement without his wheelchair. He later took to Facebook to lodge his grievance with the airline and seemed fairly miffed at their services, for obvious reasons.
“No, you simply cannot leave behind a passenger’s motorized wheelchair halfway across the world just because you *think* the batteries haven’t been disconnected. The least you could do was to contact the passenger before the flight took off and at least confirm. Fortunately, you know, the passenger didn’t die an untimely death yet.
That motorized wheelchair is the only way I travel from Point A to Point B. It is more than a person’s legs for me. Do you leave behind your aircraft’s landing gear because it didn’t clear security? Try to use some empathy before you take such decisions next time.”
Air India has clearly lost a massive chunk of whatever little business they still had to themselves and this incident all over again raises the issue of lack of sensitivity towards the differently-abled in our country.